July Newsletter

I went searching to see which writings I have not shared here before. I see that the newsletter article that I left for our congregation as James and I traveled to Baltimore for General Synod 31 was not among those posted. Even though this is late, with the message last week about being easily spooked and scared often, I decided this was still a timely piece. Hope it makes sense to some, and have a great day.

Greetings from Afar:
Ha! I will have left on our trip to the east by the time you read this. Hopefully when we finally return it will be with enhanced knowledge and more enthusiasm and, well, all those things you gain from a trip away. I moaned and groaned on the last Sunday in June about apps and uncertainties about details of the trip, but we took time on Tuesday to let Paulina do some downloading and James to make some phone calls, and things appear better. My big job before the take-off was to make sure everything would fit into the suitcase, which for me was the easy part. My family always jokes that if you need to fit an elephant into a hall closet call me. One of the things that I took time to down load onto my iPad besides the Synod App was a Bible. Finally the device is being used as it was intended. It has been interesting to read the scripture in this way, and I even found a version with the footnotes that I can click on to find which other verses relate to the one I am reading. Amazing thing! And much less weight in the carry on. Through this experience, I am again reminded of how selfish and non-productive it is to constantly be in a state of worry. In reality the more we worry and fret, the more we focus on ourselves and what is happening to us. Truly even when we think we are worrying about a loved one or a friend, in reality we are worrying about them because of how it will affect us. We must remember to give our cares to God and trust that we are loved and cared for in all things. Matthew 10:26-31 “…do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” See you soon. Pastor LuCinda

De-clutter advice

I hope you all see this post for what it is worth without being offended. I have been putting out a few posts here and there about de-cluttering and getting organized in my house. I have also spent lots of time on some “sites” to see what others have to say about clutter and how to eliminate it, and they mostly include list after list of what to eliminate. May I just say that people who keep most of the items on those lists are not looking to eliminate clutter because if they keep those items they don’t really have a clutter problem, they have a hoarding problem and that is a completely different issue. There I have put out my feelings on this and so after one little explanation, I will give you my list.

Here is the thing, I keep things mostly because I am anti-filling up the land fills. I want things to be thrown away only when they have completely reached the end of the road of use. I am all about repurposing items and recycling. I just wish that it was financially possible for us to have a recycling drop off in our area. Because we are such a small population it is more costly to collect and transport items to a center than it is to purchase more land for a land-fill, and in our are that means taking land out of agricultural production, which means less area to grow food, so you figure out what that really means.

Styrofoam

I have come to the conclusion the only real way to de-clutter is not to buy it in the first place, which is a bad idea for the economy and capitalism, but that is a completely different post. Now with that as background material, here is my “list” of what to please leave off any future lists of 25, 50, 60 80, 100 things to throw away to get rid of clutter. I already know to toss these items and I don’t want to be insulted because I see them on your list. So here is my list of 10.

 

  1. The banana peels from breakfast. (compost pile–then on the garden)
  2. Empty juice containers (recycle)
  3. Cardboard boxes (ok so I do need to break mine down and recycle them)
  4. Broken dishes (like really do you put that on there–of course I have been saving some to break up for a mosaic table top, but those are old ceramic pieces)
  5. Styrofoam insides of flower arrangements (Yes, I forgot where I put them, they are in the garbage now)
  6. Used gift wrap (I swear I threw it away this summer)
  7. Plastic bags from stores (I reuse them for small garbage bags, and I promise to take back the rest and recycle them in the future)
  8. Old food in the fridge or pantry (our rule has always been when it smells or the mold covers the entire top, it goes out, and not to the stray cats either because here we just end up with skunks and raccoons in the yard.)
  9. Toilet paper rolls (I confess there was a time when I used them as candle molds, or fire starters in the fire pit, but currently they are straight in the garbage, they are cardboard and will break down at some point–I need to find the company that figured out how to make the rolls without the tube.)
  10. And finally, last but not least or best is the: Dried up pens. (I have a theory that pens and pencils multiply when we leave the room, and though I don’t ever toss one that is still functional, I am quick to eliminate the dried up ones.)

Hopefully this has come off in the way I intended. Perhaps I will work on a serious list of what I keep to recycle and repurpose and what we actually do with those items. Earlier this year, we filled our van and drove to the place where Jessica lives and dropped the items at the recycling center there. It was a good feeling to know that what we were removing from our space was going to be remade into something useful and not just dumped into a landfill. Mostly I am hoping manufacturers begin to figure out ways to reduce the amount of garbage that comes with each product. I know that a good part of our packaging is there as a safety factor, but we need more of a happy medium at this time.

What do you do to help out the environment???

Choke Cherry Jelly

Bowls full enough

Tree full

Last Friday when it was too cold to have the pool open, meaning Paulina was home in the afternoon, and my Aunt Glenda was still in Phoenix, Paulina and I took two medium sized bowls and went to Glenda’s to pick the choke cherries. I normally don’t bother her tree, but after I had posted the pictures of our little tree, and she commented that someone should pick hers, I took that for permission. We filled those bowls as you can see on the picture, and still left plenty behind for another picker.

Mashing the cherries

It took until Sunday afternoon before we got to the actual canning part. It should have been sooner, but things never quite work out on the weekends. Here is what we did. We washed the cherries in a strainer and carefully picked out all of the stems that were still on. Next we put all the cleaned cherries into a large pot and put them on the stove on medium to heat up and eventually boil. As they got hotter, we took the potato masher that we reserve for canning purposes and mashed them down.

stirring in the cone

Eventually–well after the jars were washed and the counter was cleared of all the other dirty dishes, we got to the stage of running them through the canning cone. I don’t know what the exact name is for this thing, but to me it is the cone. I also have an original from back in the day so to speak. You can buy these new again. I am not sure how old this one is, I bought it used when we were first married, so I have had it fairly close to 35 years and have used it every year we had a garden. Because of the high stain value of choke cherries, I made sure everything we used was either glass or stainless steel. I should have checked the dish towels more carefully or insisted on paper. In the clean up, I found that my “like new” dish towel that I use to cover the bread dough was in the clean up mix and now after treatment has three blue spots on it. Oh well, nothing nice ever keeps that way it seems.

So the next phase was actually making the jelly. The recipe which I took from my New Salem Band Cookbook that I purchased many years ago while taking a writing workshop in Bismarck. I bought it from a workshop classmate whose daughter was in that band, but introvert me, I never kept track of her name. Anyway, the recipe verifies with the one from the Sur-Jell box.

boiling up the syrup

In the jars.

Chokecherry Jelly: 5 cups chokecherry juice, 7 cups of sugar, 1 box Sure-Jell fruit pectin. In a large kettle mix juice and pectin. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add sugar and again bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute or until 2 strands come together when poured from a spoon. Pour into clean, hot jars and seal. The Sure-Jell box said this would make 9 cups. Ha Ha!! I read and followed the instructions right up to the word occasionally. Apparently long words are getting hard for me to understand, or at the best, my patience for long instructions is fading. I stirred constantly and did not stop the boil at 1 minute. I kept trying to figure out how we were going to make it turn into a strand. I kept thinking of the consistency of hard candy. Ah-Duh! Jelly or Jam is to be spreadable. I am afraid of opening the jars. I think we might have the consistency of a firm jello, or perhaps a chewable jolly rancher. At the worst, Paulina and I are thinking we will reserve this for making those cookies that call for a jelly in the center. Who knows they might be rather good.

We were able to keep a nearly full pint of just syrup. That was put in a jar and set in the fridge to use as ice cream topping. I am looking forward to that. When I was little I always hated that because I wanted chocolate and we didn’t buy chocolate because we had chokecherry. Now I understand what a treat we had.

 

A Time To March — Empty Nest, Full Life

I was so taken by this post that I felt the need to share it. Many of my readers know how I feel about politics, but I have sadly been silent in the past few months. This post reminds us of another time in our history, that I am afraid some of us have forgotten or have allowed the angry voices to push those memories aside. It is time to stand up, to speak, to be heard. This morning the final verse that I read in Romans 10:1-15 “As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” I think perhaps those who march could be considered to be the ones who bring good news. I hope you enjoy this post.

I’m horrified, shocked, furious about the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend. White Nationalists, whatever the hell that means, marched supposedly to protect the statue of a man who committed treason 150 years ago and then lost a war. How to pick a winner, right? They wore Nazi insignia. They gave the Nazi salute. They […]

via A Time To March — Empty Nest, Full Life

Message Aug. 13, 2017

The picture I am sharing with our message doesn’t really go with the message, it is just a picture of our church as we are having the doors repainted. The one to the left is with the openings boarded shut while the doors are being painted. The one to the right is the men after church working together to put the finished doors back in place. The ones boarded up sort of make the statement of locking people out of the building.

The scriptures used today were: Romans 10:5-15 and Matthew 14:22-33. The title was, “Depending on Christ.”

I have always enjoyed reading, and somehow, I never ever liked to read just a single book, I always wanted it to be a series that keeps going. When I was a young girl some of my favorite books were the Nancy Drew Mystery books. Lately I have been too lazy to read, but instead I enjoy watching the television mystery movies, you know the ones on the Hallmark Movie and Mystery Channel. Well at least I used to like them. The past month or so, I can’t seem to watch them start to finish because they scare me. I just don’t like the anticipation of when the killer is going to grab the one trying to solve the case. I know that in these shows the main character is not going to die, because that would end the series, but it scares me anyway.

And after watching them long enough, I hear things and get spooked. Some of you know me well enough to realize that I am sort of a spook anyway so I don’t really need any help with that. But I just do not need any more nights like the one last week when I was sure I heard something walking around on the porch outside my bedroom. If there was something out there, and I am pretty sure I found the proof of cat spray on the upper deck Thursday. Seriously nothing bigger than a cat is going to get up there without the one sitting in the chair downstairs noticing anyway.

So, the point is that we all have things that scare us. Anyone of us in this building can likely come up with a list of time in their lives when they were frightened, and probably a list of things that scared them. I tried to think of a chronological list of things that have scared me over the year, and this is what I have today. As a young girl on the farm, I was scared to go to the basement to get the ice cream. When I had to go there, I would make sure that my back was always to the wall so that no one could be looking in the windows without me seeing them or so that no one could come out of the cellar and grab me. I either had a great imagination or read too much. Of course some of that might have come from older relatives who were really good at driving fear into all of us.

So, maybe as we get older, we are no longer afraid of the dark or the proverbial “Boogie Man,” but our fears do not necessarily go away. They change. Starting school for some children brings on separation fear from being away from their home and family. Of course school itself can be a scary place, especially when you have a test and are not sure if what you studied was the right information, I think I had more of those issues the older I got. Or what about when you join an athletic team or worse yet, when you coach one? Will the game plan you practiced be the right one for this particular opponent? That fear might explain why I prefer track over team sports. And there are the other things like fear of fitting in with your classmates or others in the school and on and on.

As we grow into adulthood, take jobs and leave home to start families of our own, fears change to include thoughts of job performance, co-worker acceptance, how you are treated by the boss. And then there are children and how we spend our time fearful of all the things that can happen to them: illness, accidents, peer pressure, and the list goes on. My oldest daughters love to tell the story of how I always scared them into staying in the yard when we lived a few miles out of Jamestown. We lived on a gravel road just off Highway 281, that goes from Jamestown to Aberdeen. They always wanted to drive their bikes to the stop sign. I forbid them from doing that alone; first off some of the drivers on our road were pretty speedy and might have hit them. The other issue was that it was a major highway, and it was fairly close to the time when the Wettering boy was abducted in Minnesota.

The older I get, the better I understand the why of some of my fears, and many of them are not so scary anymore. But, I don’t think I will ever get over the depression era mind-set and the fear that goes with it that I learned growing up as the oldest grandchild, sitting around the evening coffee table with my grandmother and her sisters and though the talk might have been about other things, the underlying theme of finances, and getting by, and how to make do with what you have, was always there. We have gardens today because we like the taste of fresh produce and the knowledge of how it has been raised. They had gardens to make sure there would be something to eat. That was a completely different mindset and the knowledge of that puts a different sort of fear into the back of one’s mind, and it hangs with you.

With all of that in mind, I want to tell you that I found out this week that because of my fears, my chances of living to a fairly old age are pretty strong. I was on one of those internet news feeds and read a headline that said, “A telltale trait of a long life” I had to tap in and find out and what it was…ironically it is worrying. People who worry who have anxiety about things are likely to live longer than those who don’t really care. To me it sounds odd; wouldn’t worriers be more likely to develop medical issues? Apparently that wasn’t an issue. I read on to see if people who worry are less likely to take stupid chances so then have fewer accidents. Actually the article didn’t really confirm or deny that thought, and it really didn’t have a good reason why it is true, but for some reason of all the people they surveyed in that study, the worriers lived longer.

Maybe the disciples would have liked to hear about that survey, and then they could have come back to Jesus with a good reason for their concerns. They could have at least said their fear, their worry, was keeping them alive longer. Because, as you can see from today’s gospel lesson, they sure knew how to worry and fret.

Our story today picks up right after the feeding of the 5,000 and the disciples have gone out in the boat while Jesus went up the hill to be alone and pray. While they are on the boat, the wind picks up and there is a rough storm. As we read this, some of you might have thought of the other time when the disciples were out on the water during a storm. In that other story, Jesus was sleeping at one end of the boat while the storm is going on. If you remember that story, the disciples were getting pretty frantic and when they couldn’t handle the boat alone, they finally went to Jesus and woke him, and he stood up and told the wind to stop and the waves to quit and it they obeyed him and it was all still. If we read this right, that story, that other story with Jesus in the boat with them that happened first. It already happened. The disciples have already experience what Jesus can do when he is in the boat with them. They know his power, but they also know that this time they are alone. He isn’t here with them on this trip, and it is bad, and they don’t know what to do.

Oh but look up and who is coming towards them, walking across the water?  It is Jesus. Here while they are again frantic about the wind and the waves and they are alone, and by the way, it is dark. They look out across the sea, and good grief here comes a figure walking towards them. OK I am not sure about you, but I am not really that far away from the little girl who turned her back to the wall while she carried the ice cream up the steps. I am not sure how I would react to seeing someone or something walking across the water towards that boat. Yet as fearful as they might be, they recognize Jesus and Peter asks to walk with him, and for a bit he does, and pretty soon they are both in the boat, and the storm stops.

Do you get what happens? We read it here as a historical event, as a thing that happened. Jesus walked towards them, across the stormy sea and when he gets into the boat, the storm quits. Now let’s look at this in the metaphor it is for us today, and for the disciples in their day, but mostly for us now.

When Jesus gets into the boat, the storm stops.

This is what our message today is all about. Our title today might say “Depending on Christ” and that is all well and good, but the bottom line, the thing we need to take away with us is this: When Jesus gets into the boat with us, the storm stops.

I know it is not always that simple, but you know what? It really is that simple. It really is. Maybe the person we care about is still sick, or the problems of our life are still there, but when we invite Jesus into our boat, and we let him be the number one in the boat, in our lives, then the storms do stop. The problems of life are still there, but somehow the way we accept them and tolerate them is different, and that is what we need to understand from this story. If we get nothing else today, let’s go from here with the understanding that we won’t go sailing until we invite Christ into the boat. Amen!!

Rain clouds

Clouds to the south over the trees.

Looking north

I took these pictures a few days ago, but the sky isn’t much different tonight. I went to check the garden (found a cucumber) and James went to dump the kitchen compost container, and we both barely made it into the house before the rain began to smatter against the windows. It was not much rain this evening, but enough to keep the pool closed. Paulina will not be getting much of a final check at this rate. Either no children come, or the weather sets in and they have to leave after an hour or two this whole week. It sounds like next week will pretty much be the end because the other guards are leaving to return to school, and they really have not had anyone there. It was plenty hot and busy in June, so I guess that is just how this summer is going.

It is good that we are getting this rain now, at least some of the crops will be salvaged, and perhaps there will be a little moisture going into the ground for hope of something better next spring. James talked to his brothers and it sounds like the row crops will be a little less than a great crop, but at least it is better than if the heat would have continues. Also, I am hopeful that this means the pastures will be ok. Half of what we own is pasture land, and I am always concerned for how that holds up.

James and I were in Bismarck today to pick up my aunt from the airport as she came back from Phoenix. She had been there since the middle of July or so. It was just a little less than a month, and I think time for her to get home. Ha!! I don’t know how many times this past week, I wanted to pick up the phone and ask her to come over for coffee or just sit on the porch, and then I remembered she wasn’t here yet.

One of the best things about the trip to Bismarck was that we really didn’t have much time to shop, so it was plan what we needed and get to it. I liked the idea because not buying is my new best way to eliminate clutter. We did purchase a few needed items, and then we browsed the canning area where I picked up some lids and both powdered and liquid pectin for making jelly. I need to get at those choke cherries tomorrow afternoon, no excuses. I also bought a larger embroidery hoop to do those towels that I stamped yesterday. I put a new bulb in the light beside my rocking chair, now I have no excuse for not doing those towels as I watch television at night. Hmmmm.

I learned that I won’t need to start my long-term substitute job on the first day of school because they are going to have the students stay with the regular classroom teachers on the first week until they get the schedules all in place. I will be starting on the last Monday in August and stay until the teacher is back. Ya!! I enjoy that room and am looking forward to being there. I know most of the students and the other teachers, and it is one of those really small schools that just feels like home.

Well, enough for tonight. I am supposed to be finishing my message, and I just can’t get to it even though I pretty well know what I want to say. These are the times, I would love to use note cards and a few key words and just talk. I am always afraid to do that because I might never get to the point and end it. I already carry on too long for some people in the audience (mostly family, Ha ha!!). Catch you later.

De-Clutter: One project done

Finally I can report on a project finished. I, apparently, work better on a deadline. Tomorrow is a baby shower for a girl who grew up across the street from us. I made one of my signature flannel blankets and I think it turned out pretty well. There were some issues with the bobbin and the tension on the first side, but after I had it adjusted correctly everything went pretty well. The biggest thing with this “pattern” is to be sure to press the seams. Basically you purchase to swatches of flannel. I used to get 1 yard of each usually a pattern and a matching solid. This time I took 1 and 1/4 yards because that makes the blanket more of a square. Also I was not happy with the solid colors that would match and chose a polka dot for the backside. I am really pleased with the result. I think that I will use polka dots or strips in the future rather than solid.

So, why did I put this under the title of de-clutter? Yesterday I spent the better part of the day trying to organize on paper this mess in my room. I finally came to the conclusion that this stuff is not leaving because I am not willing to let go of it in its present state. In other words, I am not willing to throw out my yard or my material or any of the other things that I have piled up. But, on the other hand, if I can turn them into something useful then I can let them go. So, this material is now a baby blanket and well, maybe I will get started on a few other things. I did drag out the stencils this morning when the iron was hot and stamped a couple of dish towels to embroider. That puts about five in the bag and three more to stamp. I need to put a deadline on them and maybe I can get them out of here too. Eventually I will have this place cleaned out.

Let’s see, perhaps a goal of reducing the piles by 10 percent each month might be a reasonable goal. I read a pin this past week that makes the most sense of any clutter free/organizing post I have ever seen. It wasn’t so much about how to throw things out as it was about not bringing more clutter into the mix. I think that is where I need to start. Nothing new until 10 things have been removed. So, the baby blanket you see on top of this post is item 1. Now I only have 9 more to go. Now if I can follow that rule for my craft items, I better do the same for my house plants. I really want to reduce those for this winter. Hmmm what about the canned items?

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